Tuesday, 25 January 2011

The Book - Week 1

Thank you for all your lovely comments and emails about 'The Book' As I mentioned before it has been a long and considered process taking it on, but now I have committed I am very excited and I am not afraid to admit a little bit nervous.
I had lots of emails in the last week asking for advice about the children's book publishing industry, so I thought I would try and share my experience here with you as it unfolds, lets hope it is a smooth & successful journey!

Week 1
I have the rough text at the moment, it will be edited down ALOT as I do the illustrations. At the moment it says things like 'their arms swing out in front of them' Once that is shown in the picture, it doesn't need to be in the copy etc. I currently do not have the page layouts they are being done by a designer at Orchard. These will give me an idea of where the text will fit within the illustrations, what font will be used and the general flow of the book. So I have taken this week to look for inspiration: in my childhood story books, the local libary but mainly on the internet. I have such specific words searched like 'hands lowering a bucket' which provide me with great photos like this!

When I illustrated books before I hardly used a computer, so would sit for hours in the library and set up photos shoots. One involved 2 friends of mine sat in a car park in the middle of the day, with my friends daughter in her pj's and slippers, we got a lot of funny looks that day! I still do use my own photographs, but I must admit a google search comes first.

I have also been getting to know the characters, I know that may sound silly as I have been drawing Belle & Boo for a good while now, but now they are appearing in a picture books there are some important decisions that need to be made. One of the biggest is "what is Boo?"
Yes I know he is a rabbit! but is he a pet rabbit, a wild rabbit a toy rabbit? and how human can he be? For example in the story he wears a pair of wellington boots, well at first I really wasn't sure about that, so I decided to draw how Boo would feel about it and see his reactions, I hope that makes sense?!

I am still not 100% sure how human he will become, dinner conversation btw Russ and I last night went something like this,

Me: "I am not sure Boo can hold a bottle of apple juice?"
Russ: " why not he can wear wellies"
Anyway thats a little insight into the first week, tomorrow I hope to have the spreads, so will start sketching out compositions gulp!

Thought I would share these adorable photos of Children out there around the world rocking Belle & Boo clothing, keep the photos coming we LOVE them here at Belle & Boo.

Our Lets Hug dress in Australia

Boo Coat in front of Buckingham palace

Elsa in Spring Blouse x (sold out)


  1. Thank you for this 'look behind the scenes'! I find it frustrating sometimes that people don't realize how much work there goes into a creative project, but you're telling me things Í didn't think of. I can imagine getting to know the character can be quite crucial..good luck with the next step!

  2. Oh Mandy, this is so exciting! To read how this whole process goes, love that! And Boo with little wellies, too cute! You are doing a great job, can't wait to hold the first book and read it to my daughters. Have a good day!
    Maureen x

  3. love the drawings of boo in his wellies, he doesn't look too impressed! i hope this doesn't confuse things but i don't see him being able to hold a bottle of apple juice either. i like him as a rabbit-rabbit more than a human-rabbit. i hope these kinds of comments aren't annoying! x

  4. SO exciting and a wonderful insight into all the thoughts. I often battle with the idea of how adult my animals can be, so it made me laugh about holding the apple juice or not ;) Have fun! Catherine xx

  5. Hi Mandy, we all love your work in our house. You're fondly referred to as "the artist" by our drawing mad daughter as she was very impressed to meet you and see all your gorgeous creations in Dulwich last year. Good luck with your book, I'm sure it will be fab. Just one suggestion for the FONT, can it be more child friendly, i.e. use the 'a' that they use in primary schools. I'm sure little girls will want to read your books as well as have it read to them. Happy creating :-)

  6. Russ is definitely onto something! I loved that you shared your illustrations with us--the beginning of the process!

    By the way, those little snapshots of your "wearable" goods are just adorable!

  7. I understand what you mean by "getting to know your characters," because I'm kind of going through the same thing too! Love the sketches of boo and his wellies <3

  8. Oh, I love seeing how the book process works - so interesting... and the pic of Boo sitting in the boots - so cute! I cant wait to see what the next step is.

    And those kids! They are adorable... :)

  9. so, so beautiufl, i love it.

  10. Now that was fun, reading how these adorable sweet petits come to life!
    Have a lovely evening, Mandy xx

  11. I love Belle and Boo because they remind me of me (as a kid) and my house rabbit (she passed away several years ago). My bunny did wear clothes from time to time (though I'm not sure she would have tolerated wellies :) ). I dressed her up for Halloween each year and put her in reindeer antlers at Christmas, too!

    Like someone mentioned above, I like Boo as a rabbit-rabbit. But I'm sure whatever it is you produce, I'll *have* to buy it :). I love your work!

  12. I imagine Boo is a bit like Pooh and his abilities maybe a little random and Booish and not follow any particular rationale?
    I suspect Boo has a very clear idea of things he does not like or do!

    I love the story boarding process, especially all the sketching and practising, I sometimes prefer their immediacy to the finnished product if you know what I mean.

    The book is going to be divine if the Boo in wellies sketches are anything to go by, I love that he is curious!

    Sarah x

  13. Mandy you are so talented - I'm in awe! xx

  14. I agree with the comments above me esp Sarah Jane mentioning Booish being v like Poohish.
    Imagined there could be Boo-isms the way there are memorable Pooh bear-isms - am I making any sense here!
    This was a fascinating post. I think you should save the working drawings you do such as Boo above trying out his wellies (boo is a boy rabbit isn't he?) I just got a book on Cicley Mary Barker and it shows her works in progress and things like that.
    It could be nice in the future to do a behind the scenes of Belle and Boo and include your sketches and inspirations.
    Love as always, Kat xx

  15. What a verry nice illustrations! I love them all!

  16. If Boo wears Wellies, I think that makes him as human as Paddington - another famous Wellie-wearer. Besides, he did appear to like them!
    Thank you for sharing a "behind the scenes" look at writing your book. I'm really looking forward to it and hope it will be sold here in the States as well!

  17. I love the sketches of Boo in his wellies. It's fun to see how your mind works, how you get to know your characters. In a way it also reveals a little bit of you.
    I'm looking forward to seeing more bits and pieces!
    x Tania

  18. Love that conversation snippet between you and Russ! The pictures of Boo are just, so sweet {sigh}. Thank you for the insight!